Welcome!

My name is Jenny, and I'm glad you're here.

I'm guessing that you found me for one of two reasons:

  • 1 ~ You enjoy the music of my band, Circa Paleo and want to know more about it.
  • 2 ~ You have a Hot Violinist within and are seeking some tips on how to do all of this yourself.

I'm mostly focusing on the instructional stuff here, but this is also a great place to hang out if you want more behind the scenes info and unreleased previews of my music projects.

If you're just here to listen and watch, that's cool, but now a few words for you fiddlers and fiddlers to be:

I'm not claiming to be an expert of the violin, but I do know a LOT about starting violin "late" since I myself began my fiddle journey at age 18. I've also learned a lot about unique world music styles over the past several years of traveling all over the place.

Now I want to share all the quirky tips and music that I've learned. In other words…

I'm here to make YOU into a Hot Violinist.

Before we go further, lets define hot, shall we? Because the hot I’m talking about reaches far beyond smokin’ fiddle riffs and gym bodies. Check out my first blog post, "The Hot Violinist Manifesto," to read about what "hot" really means to me.

Learn a Musical Instrument from Scratch, Part 1

I’m not here to say that everyone should learn to learn to play an instrument.

Some people just want to listen, so if playing isn’t your thing, more power to you.

As my pal Jay used to say about things like this, “That’s why they make more than one kind of breakfast cereal.”

I’m just sayin’ if you want to… you’ve gotta try it!

One of my students, Minni, never had the chance to learn music as a kid. She grew up in Northern Italy where classical music is the big thing.

At age 55 she decided to go for it.

She lives in Cremona, where the violin-as-we-know-it was literally invented a few hundred years ago by Mr. Stradivari and his pals.

Today there’s a skyscraper of a violin sculpture that welcomes you into the city, and you can find luthiers carrying on the tradition in just about every other store-front.

Pizza shop, violin shop, gelato shop, violin shop, farmacia, violin shop.

Children and teens with violin cases on their backs infest the piazza like cockroaches scurrying in every direction.

The heartland!

She bought a decent locally made violin, and called a few teachers.

They didn’t want to take her on.

My theory is that these teachers are more interested in a child who may make a name for them by becoming the next big thing. Or maybe they just don’t know how to teach adults- I admit it is way different.

When she finally found a teacher, he loaded her up with sheet music and etudes. Barely showed her how to hold the bow.

Great!! She found someone who didn’t know how to teach adults, BUT WAS WILLING TO DO IT ANYWAY. YAY!!!

Not yay.

It was frustrating, of course. She easily could have concluded she has no musical talent and deemed the whole project a huge disappointing waste of money and time.

Thankfully she did a YouTube search and found me!

😀

I’m not trying to brag.

I want to show you by Minni’s example that there’s power in seeking and trying different things when one thing isn’t working. I’m also gonna tell you in a minute where she has ended up with violin.

But meanwhile I am pretty dang proud.

She searched a bunch of videos on how to hold the bow and found mine easier to understand than the others she had seen in her native language of Italian.

Anyway that’s how we found each other and the rest is history.

I’ll never forget when she started to make her first truly beautiful sounds on the violin with long steady full resonant bow strokes. I get goose bumps every time one of my students feels that for the first time.

We were smiling at each other, big toothy ones, and she said,

“People are depressed. Because they don’t play the violin.”

I jotted that down in my notebook right when she said it.

I thought it was true. And important. Even if it’s just a metaphor and violin isn’t necessarily your thing.

So I did what every socially responsible truth seeking person would do…

And posted it as a meme on my Instagram!

I believe the ability to play music is one of the basic human functions that we all share. And that our world will change for the better if everyone who wants to play gets to, regardless of age or social background.

Better families.

More understanding and awareness among different cultures.

Less violence.

The way I see it, right now, some of our most creative minds, the ones that are born to make art and solve problems, have had to shut down their playful creative sides due to obligation or social pressure. It’s depressing.

I believe this is the # 1 cause of otherwise nice people slowly turning into ass holes.

(Pardon my French!)

In certain tribes in Africa there is not even a word for musician or dancer. It’s just understood that everyone is included.

“Only relatively recently, five hundred years or so ago, did a distinction arise that cut society in two, forming separate classes of music performers and music listeners.,”

writes Daniel Levitin,

“Throughout most of the world and for most of human history, music making was as natural an activity as breathing and walking, and everyone participated.”

That’s from his book, This is Your Brain on Music.

Civilization has brought about some comfortable perks, like hobbit movies and turtleneck sweaters, but we’ve also put our musicians up on stages at a distance above us.

If you wanna start playing the instrument you’ve always dreamed of to enhance your life and happiness, but have no idea where to start…

Check out this video!

Your assignment for today is…..

Create a comment below, and answer me these 3 questions from today’s class:

My top instrument I’d like to start (or explore more) in 2017 is _________.
The top three pieces or musical vibes I’d like to master are _____________.
I want to play _________________ because _________________________________.

There are a lot of things out of your control in life, but deciding to learn a musical instrument and get good at it, is in your control.

“There is only one reason that you ever fail at anything…and that is because you eventually change your mind. That’s it!…anything and everything you have ever decided to do, you have succeeded, or will succeed, at doing.”

-Victor L. Wooten, The Music Lesson

Auld Lang Syne Bluegrass Style

Only problem with instrumental music is sometimes you miss out on great Robert Burns lyrics:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

I never really knew what all that meant until a couple of my ViolinWOD students starting learning it for New Years. (Thanks Jami and Pete!) Then I realized what a great song it is.

Still love and relate to this little bit from Harry met Sally:

Harry: [about Auld Lang Syne] What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means. I mean, ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot’? Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot?
Sally: Well, maybe it just means that we should remember that we forgot them or something. Anyway, it’s about old friends.

Can’t you imagine Billie Crystal and Meg Ryan saying those lines?

Anyway, Kelly and I had fun playing a holiday web concert for you guys and whipped up this fun little version of Auld Lang Syne:

We’ve got another web concert on the books and hope you can join us!

It’s Saturday Feb 11 at 1pm PST.

You can sign up and get a “ticket” (for whatever you’d like to pay…) right here:

https://www.concertwindow.com/3354-jenny-and-kelly-o-connor

In the meantime I’d love to hear about your New Years resolutions or goals.

Lemme know in the comments! 😀

11 Hottest Gifts for Violinists and Fiddlers 2016!

Looking for gifts for violinists and fiddlers? This 2016 edition of my yearly list has some special ideas for some of the toughest-to-gift types of violinists on your list such as….

-Violinists to be
-Violinists with not enough time in the day
-Trad purists

And the previously impossible to gift…

-Violinist who has everything

I’ve gone cold turkey on the Amazon affiliate links this year. So, all of these links are sending you to small businesses that I simply like (Yay! Let’s send some Holiday cash their way!).

If you’d like to support thehotviolinist.com, you can purchase downloads of my music or tell your aspiring violinist friends about ViolinWOD 2017. Ooh look! The discounted pre-enrollment packages made it on this year’s list!!  😉

HOT VIOLINIST GIFTS: IDEA #1ViolinWOD

I’m proud of my 20 peeps who started violin in 2016 with me via my 5 minute a day video program. Can’t wait to see who I meet in 2017! Please send some more nice people my way for the next experience. Pre-enrollment is open with early bird discounts.

This year I’m making custom vouchers for gift giving. Just print, roll up like an ancient scroll, tie with twine, and send your loved one on an adventure.

For total beginners or anyone who wants to sound better using less practice time.

 

HOT VIOLINIST GIFTS: IDEA # 2 – Headspace Guided Meditation Subscription

Here’s another way to give an experience instead of a thing!

Stress less, sleep better, love better…. practice violin better! Neuroscientists and monks agree. Practicing meditation helps everything. The Headspace program is really easy and fun and gift subscriptions start at $12.95.

HOT VIOLINIST GIFTS: IDEA #3 – Fizzics Portable Beer System

Bring the pub home (or anywhere) for a more authentic fiddle learning atmosphere. It’s for the violinist on your list dedicated to the art and preservation of culture!

HOT VIOLINIST GIFTS: IDEA # 4 – Amazing Grace Wind Chimes

I would have thought this idea might turn out cheesy, but it’s totally not. These are beautifully tuned artisan wind chimes made by Davis Blanchard. He tunes using Just Intonation, which is what fiddlers use for the best sounding double stops.

The tuning of this set is reminiscent of the melody of Amazing Grace. You can explore the many different themes and tunings with the videos on his site to find something personal to the person you are shopping for.

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HOT VIOLINIST GIFTS: IDEA #5 – Fingerless Gloves

Super practical for any fiddler or violinist you know who sometimes needs to play outside in chilly temperatures. They also look really cool, so hey… I say air conditioning is reason enough to perform in these.

It’s a nice thoughtful little gift you can find in a variety of colors and price ranges. I liked the ones on this Etsy shop because they are handmade, afforable (under 10 bucks?!) and come in a bunch of different colors and styles for men and women.

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HOT VIOLINIST GIFTS: IDEA #6 – Swell Bottle

Hydration, hydration, hydration! Or coffee…..

A very thoughtful Santa brought me one of these for Christmas last year and it has been by my side every day since. I really like my woodgrain one, and I think a lot of fiddlers probably would too. But they have tons of color options to personalize the gift. Keeps things hot or cold and doesn’t leak. 

HOT VIOLINIST GIFTS: IDEA #7 – Circa Paleo Beanie

Vintage band gear is in. The more obscure the better. And the fiddlers in your life might appreciate being turned on to this band in particular, where the violin is the lead singer. The “dancing J” CP logo represents the connection between rhythm and melody. Meanwhile keeps head warm. 

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HOT VIOLINIST GIFTS: IDEA #8 – Productivity Planner

For the too-busy violinist in your life. (And who isn’t?) Maybe you can actually gift them with more time in the day to play.

This thing really works to get stuff done. It’s like a day planner, life coach (a good one not a woo woo one), and a time management workshop all in one little black book. It has definitely helped me to beat procrastination, but more importantly brings peace of mind.

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HOT VIOLINIST GIFTS: IDEA #9 – Matches in a Bottle

Combine these with a candle from your local candle maker for a unique gift that would make a nice finishing touch to a practice space. It’s nice to have a routine to begin the set aside practice time, and lighting a candle is perfect for that.

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HOT VIOLINIST GIFTS: IDEA #10 – The Man With the Violin

One of my violin students gave this to me, and I’ve since sent copies to two young maybe-future-fiddlers I know. It’s a children’s book based on the social experiment when world renowned Joshua Bell played his Strad in the DC Subway. Cute.

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HOT VIOLINIST GIFTS: IDEA #11 Bridge and Cross Bows T-Shirt

Violin maker Andrew Carruthers first created these designs in linoleum blocks cut with his violin making tools. Now the bridge and crossbows is available in a locally screen printed version to keep up with demand. Once you’re on his site, take a stroll through the many shirt designs and posters.

HOT VIOLINIST GIFTS: IDEA #12 – Life Sized Chocolate Violin

WHAT?! Yes, this is a whimsical memorable treat to put a smile on the face of the violinist who already has everything else. Because I really don’t think they have one of these. Made fresh to order in white, dark, or milk chocolate.

And since this is one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard of, it made it in as number 12 on my list of 11.

Did I mention it is life sized?

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So that’s my list for 2016! Please let me know the reaction if you end up getting any of these for your friends and loved ones.

And do you have any ideas of gifts for violinists and fiddlers? Lemme know in the comments below!